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Beacons Metro Festival, Manchester

North-west based music festival Beacons Metro spans over Leeds and Manchester to bring together a great line-up of artists from September until December. The festival has been known to champion talent in stunning venues, and this year, Manchester’s very own Beacons Metro took place at The Albert Hall, featuring the Canadian rocker Mac DeMarco. Support came from Horsebeach, Spring King, The Big Moon, and Kevin Morby – all of whom brought their own eclectic musical styles to get the crowd going and spanned from indie rock to chillwave and pop punk.

For the support acts I made my way upstairs and this gave me an opportunity to see a bill of new and unfamiliar artists whilst preparing for Mac later in the evening. The chapel was lit by the sunset of a post-grey Mancunian day passing through the windows. Opening up the festival were local pop punk rockers Spring King – with their track “Better Man” being my favourite. Their rustic vocals and guitar chords can be likened to what growing up feels like – the right kind of ‘mess’ and figuring yourself out. The atmosphere was electric and progressive as the crowd cheered. The festival could not have been a better chance for both upcoming and established bands to get some exposure. Next up were Horsebeach, a chillwave piece from Manchester. Horsebeach had everything you would expect to hear from an alternative dream pop band, and then some. Trance-inducing vocals and laid-back tempos made the band my favourite act of the whole night. The tracks captured me in an almost sleep-paralysis state as the melodies drifted in and around the hall. It was refreshing to hear a British chillwave artist and Beacons Metro has left me wanting to know whether there are more like Horsebeach out there. Later, London-based rock band The Big Moon, took to the stage and definitely left their mark with their cutthroat vocals. The quartet currently has an album in the works. The penultimate act of the night was stateside musician Kevin Morby – his tracks were an intricate mixture of chilled with an element of wanderlust. His vocals wove to the relaxed tempo of his guitar, with a story to tell.

These artists were beyond simply being benchwarmers for the headline act and my ears (and playlists) were filled with new artists celebrated in equal measure. At this point, I moved downstairs to the floor surrounded by other eager fans anticipating the arrival of Mac DeMarco. Having seen him perform at Parklife earlier this summer, Mac certainly did not disappoint the second time round. His classics ranged from Salad Days, Ode to Viceroy, Freaking Out The Neighbourhood, Another One and many more were met with a roaring cheer from the crowd as his feel-good melodies charged the venue. Mac’s presence thrusted the crowd into a mixture of swaying arms and sidestepping feet – if the fact that a mosh pit was formed was any measure of how brilliant the night was then Mac’s set would tick all of the boxes. Thrown into the mix were covers of Deep Purple and Nirvana for the last twenty minutes, which topped off the night perfectly.

Initially, it was Mac that drew me into Beacons Metro in Manchester, but I left the night with a whole new playlist of good music.

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